September 22, 2015

Politicians, parents condemn counterterrorism raids on Samanyolu schools

A number of politicians and parents, among others condemned Monday's raids on Samanyolu private schools, which were carried out by more than a hundred officers.

Speaking to the Cihan news agency on Tuesday, Grand Unity Party (BBP) leader Mustafa Destici described the raids as “disgraceful,” saying, “May God give them [those who ordered and carried out the raids] common sense.”

“Some senior ruling party members' children graduated from these schools. Moreover, some of the current [AK Party] deputies graduated from these schools. Did they witness anything illegal while they were being educated? These raids are a part of an operation to change the public's perception, which is also intended to intimidate [students and their parents] before the academic year begins [on Sept. 28]. I feel disturbed on behalf of my country,” Destici added.

Republican People's Party (CHP) parliamentary group deputy chairman Levent Gök reacted to the raids on Twitter, writing: “How can you search for terrorists in an educational institution? It's not possible to understand this. The country has been experiencing an abdication of reason.”

Cihan Confederation of Trade Unions (Cihan-Sen) General Director Naci Haliloğlu, whose child attends a school that was raided, said the results of the raid prove once again that Samanyolu schools are safe for children. “These schools have been raided a number of times. Recently they were raided by the counterterrorism unit. However, every time the report says, ‘These schools are safe.' This is a point of reference for parents,” Haliloğlu noted.

Union of Active Educators (Aktif Eğitim-Sen) Chairman Osman Bahçe, who is also the parent of a student who attends a Samanyolu school, stated that over a hundred officers would never be tasked with raiding schools in a democratic state.

Hüseyin Mehan, a lawyer representing the Samanyolu institutions, pointed out that nearly 150 members of the security forces have been killed in terrorist attacks since the settlement process, launched by the government at the end of 2012 in cooperation with jailed terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan to settle the country's long-standing terrorism problem, was suspended at the end of July. “Although there have been 150 martyrs [so far], the government fails to carry out operations [in eastern Turkey]. Instead, it has the counterterrorism units raid prestigious schools in Ankara. I leave this fact to the appreciation of the public,” Mehan said.

Another lawyer representing the schools, Yavuz Porikli, emphasized that the officers had not explained their reasons for deactivating the security cameras: “They said, ‘We are deactivating the cameras.' We couldn't understand that. Why would they deactivate cameras while carrying out a search?”

Pak Education and Science Employees Union (Pak Eğitim-İş) President Abdullah Kayışkıran addressed the officers conducting the raids, stating: “You won't find anything [illegal] in these institutions, which have provided education in Ankara for 30 years. You will find only medals won in competitions around the world.”

Zeki Zemheri, the board chairman of Samanyolu Educational Institutions, said: “A number of politicians' children were educated in these schools. I don't think any of them would ever betray their government or nation.”

Published on Today's Zaman, 22 September 2015, Tuesday